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How to Reduce Connectivity Risks that Threaten Event Success

Just because you have “full bars” doesn’t mean the devices your event needs to operate successfully will work how you need them to. The reality is local internet connections aren’t set up to handle the large influx of use that happens during a fair, expo or another large event.

Consider the data for your event:

  1. How many people who work and volunteer during your event will need internet connectivity? 
  2. How many of your vendors, contractors, and performers will need to access the internet during your event? 
  3. How many thousands of consumer devices – both existing local users and your attendees – will be accessing the internet during your event? 

Add those numbers up, and you’ll find that a lot of people and a lot of devices will try to connect to the same nearby cell towers. It’s an overwhelming capacity and one that most cellular carriers are not equipped to handle! 

The number of people using their smartphones just before your event will definitely spike, which could make it difficult for you and your staff to access the internet, even if coverage in the area is usually adequate. If you can’t access the internet, you can’t sell tickets, scan tickets, and so much more.

Unfortunately, connectivity is an often-overlooked component of running a successful fair, but it’s one of the most important. It’s easy to take for granted that everyone will have connectivity during your event when they want it, but will they? Review your numbers. The answer is probably not. 

The bad (and often surprising) news for fair and expo organizers is that carriers have no obligation to guarantee consistent throughput and reliability.

As a result, connectivity can quickly become a crippling problem that affects every aspect of your event, including ticket sales, merchandise sales, parking, emergency services, logistics, admittance, team communications, attendee satisfaction, live performances, and so much more. 

That’s why you need to have a well-developed connectivity plan in place that removes as much risk as possible. Internet carriers have no obligation to guarantee consistent throughput and reliability for your fair. 

How Increased Use Negatively Affects Connectivity at Your Event

When a lot of people in a single location are using cellular connectivity simultaneously, it can create several issues and put a significant load on telecom infrastructure. The top four connectivity issues you need to avoid for your event to be successful are congestion, bandwidth limitations, tower overload, and spectrum scarcity.

1. Congestion

The increased use of cellular networks by a large number of people at your event can create network congestion, which happens when the number of users exceeds the network’s capacity to handle the volume of traffic. Congestion can slow down data transfer rates, cause delays in transmitting and receiving calls and texts, and even result in dropped calls.

2. Bandwidth Limitations

A cellular network has a limited bandwidth, which is shared among all users. That means it can only support a certain amount of data traffic at a given time. When a large number of people at your event use the network simultaneously, it can exceed the available bandwidth, which causes slower internet speeds, downloads, and data transfer rates as well as more dropped calls.

3. Tower Overload

The cell towers that transmit cellular signals can become overloaded when a large number of people are using the network simultaneously. Since the number of users jumps during a large fair or expo, this can result in a weaker signal and reduced coverage, leading to more dropped calls and slower data transfer rates. Sometimes, an overloaded tower can crash. If that happens, you, your staff, your vendors, your attendees, and everyone in the area of your event will lose their internet connection.

4. Spectrum Scarcity 

Wireless communication devices such as cell phones, radios, and WiFi routers use radio waves to transmit and receive data. These devices are designed to operate within specific frequency bands to avoid interference with other devices operating in nearby frequency bands. The amount of radio spectrum allocated to cellular networks is limited, and as more people use the network simultaneously, there is a higher risk of spectrum scarcity. This can cause significant disruptions to the network and lead to reduced coverage, slower data transfer rates, and dropped calls.

4 Critical Ways Connectivity Impacts Event Success

There are numerous risks associated with unreliable or slow internet connectivity leading up to and during a fair or expo. This is why it’s essential to plan ahead with a connectivity provider that can not only reliably meet your event’s needs but also has redundancies in place. 

For example, people buying tickets at the gate may not be able to pay if there is no internet connection for your POS system, so you’ll lose sales. If credit card connectivity is down, you’ll have to allow people to make offline credit card purchases, which creates a high risk of chargebacks. 

But it’s not just your revenue that will be negatively affected if you lose internet connectivity! If your team members and volunteers can’t communicate in real-time, verify parking passes, and efficiently sell new parking passes, the traffic flow will be delayed. This applies to gate entry as well. Reliable, fast connectivity leads to faster throughput of attendees and admittance for both people and vehicles.

1. Onsite Ticket, Parking, and Other Sales

If you plan on selling parking passes and tickets at your event, then you must have reliable internet connectivity for revenue protection. The same is true if you’re selling merchandise, food, or anything else that requires credit card payments in real time. 

Even a few seconds of latency in your internet connection could be the difference between making or losing a sale, and no event organizer wants to close the door on revenue opportunities because the internet connection is bad!

Wi-Fi networks typically have a range of up to 100 feet indoors and up to 300 feet outdoors,
and the range is limited by the distance from the nearest cell tower.

2. Throughput of Gate Entry

If you need to be able to access the internet at the gate or door (for example, to scan tickets), make sure the internet coverage will be adequate in advance. Keep in mind that for outdoor events, the coverage at the gate won’t be the same as it would be at the door of an indoor venue.

In addition, your event’s throughput of gate entry can vary significantly if you have a drive-in gate or a walk-in gate. This distinction is extremely important because throughput volume directly affects how many scanners or credit card machines you’ll need. 

However, it doesn’t matter how many scanners and credit card machines you have if they can’t connect to the internet. Even small delays caused by slow connections to the internet can cause costly disruptions and logistical problems. 

There should be an internet connection for every 40 feet of outdoor space
in order for ticket and entry gates to run reliably and efficiently.

3. Safety and Monitoring

Your event will need reliable connectivity to monitor and respond to safety concerns. 

For example, if your ticketing company provides onsite cameras at entrance points and real-time-tracking and monitoring to allow event directors and local authorities to view the status of the various parking lots and shuttles in real-time, then you definitely need to be confident the internet connection that allows all of these people and systems to communicate is working and doesn’t lag.

The risk associated with not being able to communicate with emergency services or critical people during your event is too high not to invest in the best connectivity possible.

4. Event Parking

Imagine you sold reserved parking and general parking passes for your fair or expo and connectivity is poor on the day of the event. If your ticket scanners can’t scan attendees’ parking passes, people will park in the wrong places, which could cause a long list of problems – from unhappy ticket buyers to traffic jams. 

And what if some parking lots are out in the field – far from WiFi connectivity? Will the internet connection work for remote point-of-sale (POS) and ticket scanners? The answer to both of these questions, if you’re using the local community’s carrier, is probably not.

How to Eliminate Connectivity Risks for Your Event

To guarantee your event will generate the revenue you expect (and hope), you need to mitigate connectivity risks that could prevent onsite sales. And to ensure your event goes off smoothly, so people will want to buy tickets the next time you hold it, you need to have reliable internet connectivity that enables you to deliver excellent attendee experiences.

Work with your connectivity provider to ensure adequate connectivity is available based on your venue location and needs. This is not a one-size-fits-all situation, and depending on the size and location of your event, your requirements will vary. 

For example, a dedicated network is best for large events as well as events held in rural locations where connectivity can be patchy or in large metropolitan areas where large numbers of people access the local network each day. 

If your event would benefit from a dedicated internet connection, the ideal situation is for your ticketing company to provide it for you. 

The solution your ticketing provider offers should include mobile hotspot gateways, self-service kiosks for ticket buyers to check in and/or print tickets, mobile ticket scanners and POS, and box office POS. 

In addition, connectivity should be available to the venue, vendors, first responders, and mission-critical services and technologies at a minimum. The goal is to improve all communications between all entities involved in supporting and executing your event. 

When this happens, you’ll maximize revenue, and attendees will buy tickets again the next time you hold the event. They’ll also tell others about your event and encourage them to attend next time too.

Therefore, don’t settle for less than a dedicated, private network with satellite capabilities and first-priority access for your event. Use a private 5G network and satellite connectivity for redundancy. With these services in place, you can hold your event with confidence, knowing that all of the tasks that rely on an internet connection will be completed quickly and efficiently – no delays, no lost revenue, and no unhappy ticket buyers.

The Key to Success for Fairs and Expos is
Integrated Connectivity and Ticketing

When connectivity, ticketing, and event success are integrated, you’ll know your revenue is protected and risks are eliminated to the greatest extent possible. You can sell tickets at various venue locations where power and internet connectivity may not be possible, and your parking and traffic staff can work anywhere without restriction. 

Overloaded local networks, local internet service provider (ISP) outages, and power failures won’t be a problem for your event when everything is reliably and seamlessly connected, including ticketing, internet, communications, sales, parking, emergency services, and more.